Research on Sensitive Topics

If a study deals with sensitive topics, such as alcohol/drug use, suicide or child abuse, or uses the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), subjects should be forewarned in the informed consent form that they will be asked questions on these topics. Subjects should also be given contact information for counseling services should they experience any distress as a result of their participation. Recommended language is available in the informed consent template for sensitive topics.

Depending on the nature of the study, it may be appropriate to also give subjects a separate handout at the conclusion of the study with a list of counseling services in case they experience any distress after completing the study. See the template for list of counseling services. Counseling resources should be local to where subjects are located. If subjects are located in various places, national resources would be appropriate.

In some cases, it may also be appropriate for subjects to be given a debriefing form at the conclusion of the study to reiterate the purpose of the study and to answer any questions they may have.